Transfer Credit

 

As noted on the Degree Requirements page, GSAS degree requirements consist of a) the academic requirements enumerated by the department or program, and b) the requirement of residence at the University, which students fulfill by completing a stated number of Residence Units.

At GSAS, Transfer Credit denotes relevant coursework completed before a student’s enrollment in a GSAS degree program, and that he or she may submit in partial fulfillment of specific academic requirements for the degree. This determination is made by the student’s department, approved by GSAS, and entered on the student’s transcript as formal acknowledgement of completed work that a student may use in partial fulfillment of academic requirements for the degree.

During the first semester in which they register, students who wish to request Transfer Credit should submit the Application for Transfer Credit form (PDF) as well as any relevant materials to their department’s Director of Graduate Studies or program coordinator. Departments and programs determine the number of points of Transfer Credit to award, and forward their recommendation to the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Please note that all coursework submitted for Transfer Credit must be at the graduate level (at Columbia, this means courses at the 4000 level and above) and worth 3 or more points each and must not have been used to fulfill requirements for any other degree previously awarded at Columbia or elsewhere.

Students should be aware of the following policies:

  • Transfer Credit is granted solely by the faculty and the Dean of the Graduate School.
  • Requests for Transfer Credit must be made by both the student and the Director of Graduate Studies/Program Director.
  • Under no circumstances will undergraduate courses (for Columbia courses, those at the 3000 level and below) be accepted as Transfer Credit toward a Master's or doctoral degree.
  • Once granted, Transfer Credit cannot be revoked.

Policies for awarding Transfer Credit differ depending on the type of degree program (doctoral or Master's). Please see the appropriate section below.

Doctoral Students

Doctoral Students Entering with a Master's Degree:

All doctoral students are required to complete a total of six Residence Units.  Doctoral students who have completed the requirements either a) for an appropriate M.A. degree, conferred in another division of Columbia or by another regionally accredited institution (or the international equivalent), or b) (occasionally) for an appropriate professional degree taken at Columbia or elsewhere, may be granted, upon entrance to the Graduate School, two Residence Units toward the required total of six.  Departments decide whether the previously completed M.A. is appropriate: it must meet Columbia departmental standards and contribute directly and substantially to the fulfillment of the requirements for the M.Phil. and Ph.D. degrees at Columbia.

Students who have been granted two Residence Units toward the total of six Residence Units are not eligible to receive an M.A. from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.

Note: Because departments reserve the right to establish degree requirements for all students in their programs, it is important to note that students may not necessarily be exempt from all requirements demanded of M.A. candidates, even if they are not eligible for the Columbia M.A. degree.

Graduate students transferring to Columbia as an advisee of a faculty member hired from another institution may be granted a higher number of Residence Units based on special departmental determination.

Doctoral Students Entering without a Master's Degree:

Ph.D. students who have taken graduate-level courses at Columbia before joining their current doctoral program, but have not completed an appropriate M.A. degree program or the equivalent (or an appropriate professional degree), may receive up to 30 points of Transfer Credit.

Ph.D. students who have taken graduate-level courses outside Columbia, but have not completed an appropriate M.A. degree program or the equivalent (or an appropriate professional degree), may receive up to 15 points of Transfer Credit. In this case, M.A. coursework requirements may be shortened by the amount of Transfer Credits, subject to approval by the department. For example, if the M.A. degree requires 30 credits and the student transfers 10 credits, he or she may only need to fulfill the remaining 20 credits.

Students who registered previously in a graduate program at Columbia must register in six RUs while matriculated in the Ph.D. program. Note:  Depending on the number of RUs in which they were registered prior to entering the Ph.D. program, their student records may show more than six total RUs. 

Students may not register for Extended Residence until they have accumulated a total of six RUs as students in the Ph.D. program in which they are currently registered.

Master's Students

Departments and programs reserve the right to determine the number of points of Transfer Credit awarded to each student.

For graduate courses taken previously at Columbia, students registered in M.A. programs* may request up to 15 points of Transfer Credit toward fulfillment of the coursework requirement for an M.A. degree. Credit must not have been used to fulfill requirements for any other degree previously awarded.  In this case, M.A. coursework requirements may be shortened by the amount of Transfer Credits, subject to approval by the department. For example, if the M.A. degree requires 30 credits and the student transfers 10 credits, he or she may only need to fulfill the remaining 20 credits. Transfer Credits may also partially fulfill the Residence Unit requirement for completion of the M.A. degree (2 RUs), subject to approval by the department.

  • 2 classes or 6 credits are the equivalent of 0.25 RU
  • 3 classes or 9 credits are the equivalent of 0.5 RU
  • 4 classes or 12 credits are the equivalent of 1 RU

No Transfer Credit is granted toward the Master of Arts (M.A.) degree at Columbia for courses taken outside Columbia University.*

* Requirements for the Master's programs in American Studies, Human Rights Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Modern European Studies, and South Asian Studies do not involve Residence Units; please see below for Transfer Credit policies for these programs.

Master's Students in American Studies, Human Rights Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Modern European Studies, and South Asian Studies:

Note: The policies in this section supersede the preceding policies listed above.

These seven programs reserve the right to determine the number of points of Transfer Credit awarded to each student.

In all seven programs, a maximum of 12 points of Transfer Credit may be awarded for courses at the 4000 level and above that were completed at Columbia and have not been applied toward another degree that was previously awarded.

Students in American Studies, Islamic Studies, Jewish Studies, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Modern European Studies, and South Asian Studies are allowed up to six points of Transfer Credit for courses taken outside Columbia. The courses transferred must be graduate-level courses, have a specific relationship to the program chosen, and have been completed prior to the student's first semester in the Master's program. They must not have been used to fulfill requirements for another degree that was previously awarded. Once students are admitted, they must complete all their remaining coursework at Columbia.

Students in the Master's program in Human Rights Studies are not granted Transfer Credit for courses taken outside Columbia.